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Paranormal Discussions > Falconstone, by Mel Keegan

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Ulysses Dietz | 1559 comments Falconstone
By Mel Keegan
DreamCraft publications, 2018
Five stars

“They were that bad? All of them?”
“Almost all of them.”

This is a long book. About a really haunted house. In other words, my kinda book.

It’s also well-written, populated with vivid, fully-drawn characters, and incredibly creepy. The author has painted an amazingly intense portrait of Falconstone itself – possibly the most important character in the book.

Scott Lennox, a thirty-something Aussie landscape gardener down on his luck, suddenly finds himself the heir to a great English Tudor manor house from a mysterious “uncle” he’s never heard of. Perched on the bleak Yorkshire moorlands, Falconstone is about as welcoming as a root canal, especially at the start of the dark, cold Yorkshire winter. And yet, something about this huge, meandering house, built in stages from the eleventh to the nineteenth centuries, touches Scott. Literally.

When Adam Harding, an antiquarian bookseller from Scarborough (who just happens to be a few years older than Scott) begins to dig into the library collection at Falconstone, he and Scott begin to understand that something really weird has been going on at Falconstone – literally for centuries. At first it’s just a matter of money – old books can be big cash, and Scott wants cash to start a business back in Adelaide; then, as the two young men learn more of the history of Falconstone, they also start to understand why the house affects them the way it does.

One of the great characters in this story is Edith Bretton, the sixty-something housekeeper who’s worked at Falconstone since the days of the last Earl of Greythorpe. Her archetypical British housekeeper image is marvelously twisted by the fact that she listens to nothing but the music of her own youth on the radio – which is sixties rock and roll. It’s a smart reminder that this is not “Rebecca” or even “Downton Abbey.” This is twenty-first-century England, where scientific fact rules and there’s no such thing as ghosts.

Yeah, right.

Keegan also introduces other characters, some on the spooky side of things (the Quincannons, medieval scholars and patrons of a local Wiccan group); some on the painfully banal side, such as Maggie Warburton, the local solicitor handling the estate, with her upbeat attitude and red Toyota; and Sanjay Kumar, the commercially-minded realtor with an eye to maximizing the sale value of the crumbling old house. These people both represent modern, rational England, and represent the mindset in which the paranormal doesn’t exist.

The whole story is clever and hair-raising, and without seeming to do so focuses on the burgeoning spark between Scott and Adam as a catalyst that is felt by Falconstone as much as they feel it around them. Adam and Scott are very modern gay boys; but they have big hearts and compassionate souls. They represent something that has possibly never existed at Falconstone.

The only thing I didn’t like was the cover, because the house illustrated on the edition I got couldn’t possibly be Falconstone. It’s far too prosaic and Victorian. I wasted far too much time trying to track down an appropriate house online…figuring out at last that Falconstone was probably somewhere between the sprawling medieval Haddon Hall, and the more cozily Elizabethan and Victorian Charlecote Park. It’s a testament to the author’s imagination that he has created a house that feels very real (to a house nerd like me), while in fact being a true fantasy created for the book. Well done indeed!

message 2: by Aussie54 (last edited Sep 20, 2019 11:14PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Aussie54 | 322 comments This great review inspired me to try the sample from Amazon.

Here comes a short story all about me!

I discovered Mel Keegan back in the early 2000's when I first started reading gay fiction. I was pleased to find an Aussie author, and Mel actually lived in my home city. This was before I had an eReader, so I bought several of Mel's books in paper back.

It was also before I joined Goodreads and started reviewing, so I have no records of my thoughts about each of the books I bought. I must've liked them though, to have bought eight of them (I notice that I have two copies of "The Deceivers", no idea why.) Most of them have personal inscriptions from Mel.

I haven't re-read them much, and think it's because most of them are print-on-demand versions, with tiny font, narrow margins, and are tightly bound, making them difficult to read.

I was hoping to enjoy this new book from Mel, but the sample isn't doing much for me. I'm finding the writing a bit convoluted, with rambling sentences. I don't feel much love for Scott. I really want to like it and will maybe persevere. I'm not sure if it's me that's changed over the years, or Mel's writing ... I know Mel has had a long break from the internet, and writing, so maybe Mel is a bit rusty.

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